A youngster at school, more sedate than the rest,
Had once his integrity put to the test;
His comrades had plotted an orchard to rob,
And ask'd him to go and assist in the job.
He was shock'd, sir, like you, and answer'd - "Oh, no
What! I rob our good neighbor? I pray you don't go
Besides, the man's poor, his orchard's his bread,
Then think of his children, for they must be fed."
"You speak very fine, and you look very grave,
But apples we want and apples we'll have;
If you will go with us, you shall have a share,
If not, you shall have neither apple or pear."
They spoke, and Tom ponder'd - "I see they will go
Poor man! what a pity to injure him so!
Poor man! I would save him his fruit if I could,
But staying behind will do him no good.
'If the matter depended alone upon me
His apples might hand till they dropp'd from the tree;
But since they will take them, I thick I'll go too;
He will lose none by me, though I get a few."
His scruples thus silenced, Tom felt more at ease,
And went with his comrades the apples to seize;
He blamed and protested, but joined in the plan;
He shared in the plunder, but pitied the man.
-William Cowper Compendium p. 746
I like this cautionary tale. Regarding the broad scope of life, it challenges me to look at the areas I concede in when I shouldn't - going along brings culpability. Mostly, concession comes in the form of keeping my mouth closed to for peace's sake, or hanging back just long enough to see if others will take the lead in on stepping out against something that is wrong.
That's just what this kiddo did, to slide down a slippery slope. Hmmm... not just a kiddo story.
Could you say a tale has one meaning - but many applications?